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10/03/2017 News Release Image

The Chronicle of Higher Education: "Can a 20-Minute Test Tell Employers What a College Degree Cannot?"

Goldie Blumenstyk from "The Chronicle of Higher Education" interviewed Pace President Marvin Krislov at their offices in Washington, D.C. She quotes him in her article about whether hiring practices should include tests and whether those tests can be more of a determining factor of employment readiness than a college degree.

While sympathetic to the goals of these efforts, he worries that the tests, however well intentioned, could screen out good candidates too. "I would hope employers would have holistic hiring practices in the same way as colleges do in admissions," says Mr. Krislov, who was general counsel at the University of Michigan during its legal fights over affirmative action. Colleges teach in many ways, he adds, and "you can’t replace the set of experiences with a one-shot test."

From "The Chronicle of Higher Education:"

Can a 20-Minute Test Tell Employers What a College Degree Cannot?

By Goldie Blumenstyk

OCTOBER 03, 2017

When it comes to hiring, many employers still lean toward graduates from name-brand institutions. Yet those employers don’t entirely trust what a college degree represents. Does it really mean you can get the job done?

More and more, their answer is no.

That’s a problem, and some education groups and companies think they have a way to fix it. Their idea: simple tests that employers can use to measure whether college graduates and others are really ready for the jobs they apply for.

Few of the backers of these tests say — not publicly, at least — that their assessments would replace the degree and everything it signals. But they do argue that the assessments, often taking no more than 20 minutes to complete, can make up for information that the degree doesn’t seem to communicate. And, they say, the tests could also help to level the playing field in hiring.

Too many graduates "don’t get a shot at the high-value jobs they should be getting," says Roger Benjamin, president of the Council for Aid to Education. "That’s a big deal in a liberal democracy."

Fifteen years ago, the council created the Collegiate Learning Assessment, now called CLA+, a standardized test that measures graduates’ thinking and communication skills. Now the group is one of several educational organizations working to develop a screening test to assure employers that job applicants have the critical reasoning and writing skills employers want from applicants with a bachelor’s degree. At the urging of Mr. Benjamin, who has been quietly crusading on this issue for several years, the council is studying whether it could adapt its CLA+ into a leaner, employer-friendly version.

"It’s not a direct attack on the institutions or the B.A.," says Mr. Benjamin. He sees it instead as a way to open up opportunities at less-selective institutions "and the human capital they represent."

A short test is essential. The CLA+ takes 90 minutes to complete, and it is scored by humans. The council is weighing a version, scored by machine, that would take about a third of the time to complete.

That’s because most employers won’t consider requiring anything longer than about 20 minutes at the first stage of hiring for fear of alienating potential applicants, says Monica Herk, vice president for education research at the Committee for Economic Development. The 75-year-old organization, now part of the business-focused Conference Board, is promoting the use of an easily administered screening test that it hopes will be "a game changer for low- and middle-income job applicants, for employers, and ultimately for the postsecondary sector."

"We’re not claiming to measure everything that colleges teach by any means," says Ms. Herk. The experiment is known as the Essential Competencies Project and is backed by several education-focused foundations. The project has begun to enlist employers who will administer an existing assessment and then measure whether it is a better screening tool than standard information, including academic credentials.

The project has already identified the online test it will ask employers to use, but Ms. Herk declined to name it. The test measures what the companies consider foundational skills, "not whether you can program Python," says Ms. Herk, and will be used by companies hiring for so-called middle- and high-skill jobs. (High-skill jobs are those in which 80 percent of the current occupants have a bachelor’s degree; middle-skill jobs are those in which 80 percent don’t.)

The goal is to see if the assessment "provides a more precise signal" than a degree would in identifying people who perform well in their jobs and stick around for a while, Ms. Herk says. "Is it a complete assessment of what they learned? No, it isn’t. But right now, employers are judging on much less."

Like Mr. Benjamin, she sees the screening test as a way to bring more fairness into the hiring system. When employers rely on the prestige of a college to determine who gets considered for jobs, says Ms. Herk, it "reinforces all sorts of socioeconomic inequalities in our country."

Holistic Hiring?

None of this activity is taking place in a vacuum. Companies and others already spend $1 billion a year on hiring assessments. But most of that testing identifies whether applicants have skills for a specific job, not whether they are critical thinkers. And those targeted tests come into play later in the hiring process, not at the screening stage. That’s because under fair-employment laws, employers can’t use tests unless they are relevant to the job.

The interest in finding an ideal pre-hire screening test comes because companies and public-policy groups are concerned that employers rely too heavily on the bachelor’s degree as a screen for filling jobs, even when the jobs themselves don’t require that level of skills. It also arises from a broader societal push for more hiring based on proven competencies rather than academic pedigrees, with companies like Google and Ernst & Young having famously declared that they would no longer require a degree. A 2015 survey from Gallup found that only 13 percent of Americans strongly agree that college graduates in this country are well prepared for success in the workplace.

At the same time, higher education has begun rethinking the way it recognizes students’ skills. More institutions have turned to competency-based degree programs or the use of badges and other new forms of credentials to signal students’ skills to employers and others.

Still, the idea of using simple tests from outside parties as a check on the college degree opens up a potential new challenge to the value of a college education, even if the test advocates insist they’re not looking to use these assessments as a stand-in for the degree itself.

To be sure, the degree still matters. Employers pay a premium in salary for people with bachelor’s degrees, says Sean Gallagher, who studies credentials and hiring issues as executive director of Northeastern University’s new Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy. But the interest in these tests, he says, is another sign that "people are trying to break the monopoly" higher education has in certifying job candidates.

The move toward general pre-hiring screening tests has drawn a mixed response from some education leaders and others who study the employment scene.

Marvin Krislov, who was formerly president of Oberlin College, is now president at Pace University, which is less selective. While sympathetic to the goals of these efforts, he worries that the tests, however well intentioned, could screen out good candidates too. "I would hope employers would have holistic hiring practices in the same way as colleges do in admissions," says Mr. Krislov, who was general counsel at the University of Michigan during its legal fights over affirmative action. Colleges teach in many ways, he adds, and "you can’t replace the set of experiences with a one-shot test."

But in this era, by some estimates, job openings attract an average of 250 applications, and employers spend about six seconds reviewing each one. Digitized applicant-tracking systems and automated keyword searches for screening résumés do much of the initial dirty work. If there’s holistic hiring taking place, it often comes much later in the process.

And winning over employers and applicants won’t be easy.

"There’s a lot of appeal to the notion of a leveling across brands" of colleges, says Matthew Sigelman, chief executive at Burning Glass, a company that analyzes job-ad data. But Burning Glass hasn’t seen much interest in tests that aren’t skill-specific.

He points to the National Career Readiness Certificate, or NCRC, a credential that students can earn through ACT’s WorkKeys program, which is used primarily by high schools and community colleges. In 2016, only 4,831 job postings called for the certificate, out of nearly 26 million unique job postings analyzed by Burning Glass.

(An ACT spokesman says much of the demand for the test comes from employers working directly with ACT and local colleges to fill particular employment gaps, so many of those jobs don’t necessarily appear in the Burning Glass analysis.)

"Skills are more easily evaluated in context," says Mr. Sigelman. He questions whether tests of general college-level skills can gain currency in the hiring marketplace. They’ll have to crack the chicken-and-egg cycle, he says. "Employers aren’t going to ask for something for which there isn’t a lot of supply," he says. And "learners don’t want a certificate no one asked for."

Corporate Upstarts

None of that is discouraging to advocates like Mr. Benjamin of the Council for Aid to Education. Two-thirds of the jobs that call for a bachelor’s degree require the kinds of problem-solving, critical-thinking, and writing skills that the CLA+ has reliably measured for 15 years, he says. The Italian version of the CLA+ has already been used in hiring there, he notes.

It’s hardly alone. Indeed, Suzana Delanghe, chief commercial officer at ACT, says that the number of people passing the three 40-to-60-minute tests required for the NCRC credential has grown steadily over the past five years. (More than 488,000 people earned the certificate in 2016.) "There is a huge demand to find a standardized test" that communicates applicants’ skills to employers, especially overseas, she contends.

Several newer companies on the hiring-assessment scene say they are trying to deal with the same hiring-preference issues that Mr. Benjamin’s and Ms. Herk’s efforts aim to address.

These newcomers include:

  • Koru, a "predictive hiring" company, sells an assessment to companies that it says can evaluate potential employees based on seven competencies. Josh Jarrett, a co-founder, says its "grit over grades" evaluation is a way to test if a candidate will "be effective when there’s not a syllabus anymore."
  • Pymetrics, a company founded by two neuroscientists, provides a series of 12 online games, taking one to three minutes each, that companies can use to screen applicants’ suitability for jobs. Pymetrics now works with more than 40 companies, and at least one, Unilever, is using the gamified testing system as a first screen for all of its entry-level hiring, rather then visit a select number of college campuses. Frida Polli, a co-founder, says she created the company after seeing "the mess that was recruiting" while at business school, to bring more "objectivity and fairness" into the process.
  • EquitySim, a start-up, provides students and others the chance to simulate the experience of investing a multimillion-dollar portfolio, while underlying software evaluates them on the steps they took in making their decisions. Now used in more than 220 college classes, EquitySim is both an educational tool for professors and a screening tool for several investment banks that work with the company to identify promising job candidates. Justin Ling, a 29-year-old recent graduate of Simon Fraser University, says he co-founded the company in 2016 because he was frustrated that the "brand name of your school matters a lot when comes to investment banking." Mr. Ling says he hopes to expand EquitySim’s scope to other industries and eventually create a simulation that would allow students to demonstrate their skills directly to employers.

All of these efforts bear watching, says Northeastern’s Mr. Gallagher. "It’s a hot market right now," he notes, and while the ramifications for colleges are not clear, there’s no doubt that there will be some.

"It’s hard to say the degree is completely broken and going the way of the dodo," he says. But this movement shows, he says, that "there are some cracks in the foundation."

Goldie Blumenstyk writes about the intersection of business and higher education. Check out www.goldieblumenstyk.com for information on her new book about the higher-education crisis; follow her on Twitter @GoldieStandard; or email her at goldie@chronicle.com.

Read the article on the website of "The Chronicle of Higher Education."

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09/12/19

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"Hemel Today" featured former Pace University basketball captain, Greg Poleongoing in "Big American signing for Storm"

09/12/19

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"NJ. Com" featured two Pace alums Alexandra Giaccone and Ali Kalu in "For N.J. couple, a love that defied loss from 9/11"

09/12/19

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"Onstage Blog" featured the Pace School of Performing Arts in "The Top 30 College Dance Programs for 2019-2020"

09/12/19

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"Westchester County Business Journal" featured Tiffany Hamilton in "Pace Names First chief Diversity Officer"

09/11/19

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"The Broadsheet" featured Pace University in "News of Lower Manhattan September 10, 2019"

09/11/19

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"CGTN America" featured Richard Shadick, director of the Pace University Counseling Center, in "World Suicide Prevention Day: 47000 lives lost each year to suicide in the US"

09/11/19

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"The Chronicle of Higher Education" featured Pace’s Nactel program in "Why One Advocate Believes the Phrase ‘Go Back to School’ Needs to Go"

09/11/19

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"Fried on Business (Radio)" featured Seidenberg's Professor Darren Hayes in "Fried on Tech: Cybersecurity"

09/10/19

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"US News & World Report" featured Pace University in "How International Students Can Practice English"

09/10/19

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"The Mercury News" featured Dyson Professor Anthony Mancini in "For Conception crew, surviving the fire is just the first step in a long healing process"

09/09/19

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"News12" featured Pace School of Education's Dr. Shobana Musti in "Kids learn how to code and build robots at Pace University"

09/09/19

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"TVLine" featured Pace University's Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts in "Inside the Actors Studio Adds Al Pacino — Watch Trailer for Revival on Ovation"

09/06/19

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"Time" featured the Elisabeth Haub School of Law's Distinguished Criminal Justice Fellow Mimi Rocah in " Sealed Jeffrey Epstein Court Documents Name at Least 1,000 People. A Judge Must Decide Whether to Release Them"

09/06/19

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"C-SPAN" featured Dyson professor Durahn Taylor in "American Cartoons in World War II"

09/06/19

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"CNN" featured Environmental Law student Robin Happel ’22 in "What happened during CNN's climate town hall and what it means for 2020"

09/06/19

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"Yahoo Entertainment " featured the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University in "Inside the Actors Studio Adds Al Pacino — Watch Trailer for Revival on Ovation"

09/06/19

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"Television Week" featured the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University in "Al Pacino and Ellen Burstyn Join Forces to Help Launch Show's New Season"

09/06/19

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"Broadway World" featured the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University in "Ovation Taps Award-Winning Actors Ellen Burstyn and Al Pacino for INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO"

09/06/19

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"Politico" featured the Elisabeth Haub School of Law's Environmental Law Program professor Karl Coplan in "Get ready for the climate marathon"

09/05/19

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"NBC News" featured Dyson history professor Joseph Tse-Hei Lee in "Pro-Hong Kong demonstrations in U.S. met with China-supporting counterprotesters"

09/05/19

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"Diverse: Issues in Higher Education" featured Pace University in "Pace University Program Focused on Diversifying Performing Arts"

09/05/19

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Press Release: Pace President to Class of 2023 -- “Take Advantage of Opportunities” University Hosts its 12th Annual Convocation at Pleasantville Campus

09/04/19

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"FiOS 1 News" featured Pace University's Pleasantville Convocation in "Big Welcome For Incoming Freshmen at Pace University"

09/04/19

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"NY1 News" featured Pace University's 2019 Convocation Ceremony in Manhattan and the Incoming Class of 2023

09/03/19

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"NYC Streets Blog" featured Elisabeth Haub School of Law Professor Bennett L. Gershman in "Hit-and Run Drivers Injure Thousands -Why Are So Few Ever Charged?"

09/03/19

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"Indian Country Today" featured Elisabeth Haub School of Law's Professor Michael Mushlin in "Court Rules Transgender Inmate Court rules Transgender Inmate and Shoshone-Bannock Citizen Needs Sex Reassignment Surgery"

09/03/19

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"Jackson Hole News & Guide" featured Lubin School of Business Professor Larry Chiagouris in " Eco Search Engine Sees Surge in Downloads as Amazon Burns"

09/03/19

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"Clean Tech Canada" featured Lubin School of Business Professor Larry Chiagouris in "Eco Search Engine Sees Surge in Downloads as Amazon Burns"

09/03/19

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"The Hilltop Monitor" featured Pace University's Elisabeth Haub School of Law's Distinguished Criminal Justice Fellow Mimi Rocah in "Epstein accuser says Prince Andrew Should Come Clean"

09/03/19

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"Playbill" featured Pace University in "Pace University Establishes New Program to Increase Diversity in Theatre and Media Arts"

09/03/19

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"San Francisco Gate" featured Elisabeth Haub School of Law's Distinguished Criminal Justice Fellow Mimi Rocah in "Pressure on Epstein Prosecutors To Charge Others Intensifies"

08/29/19

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"Digital Information World" featured Lubin School of Business and Associate Dean Randi Priluck in "Users Have Some Interesting Reactions To Instagram Hiding the Number of Likes- Say It Won't Solve The Issue"

08/29/19

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"ABC News" featured Lubin School of Business Marketing Professor Larry Chiagouris in "Eco Search Engine Sees Surge in Downloads as Amazon Burns"

08/29/19

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"Herald News" featured College of Health Professions Professor Christen Cupples Cooper, EdD, RDN in "Sugary Drinks Can Pack A Major Punch to Your Gut and Your Health"

08/29/19

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"News Times" featured Pace Latest Appointment in "Stamford Woman Named Pace University's Diversity Officer"

08/29/19

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Press Release: Mellon Foundation Grant to Pace University Establishes New Program to Increase Diversity in Theater and Media Arts

08/28/19

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"Broadway World" featured Pace and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in "Pace University Launches Writing for Diversity and Equity in Theater and Media Arts Fellows Program"

08/28/19

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"Bloomberg" featured The Elisabeth Haub School of Law Criminal Justice Fellow Mimi Rocah in "Pressure on Epstein Prosecutors to Charge Others Just Got Higher"

08/28/19

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"Broadway World" featured Pace University Performing Arts in "The Pickup Artist and My Name is Annie King Headline New York Theatre Barn's New Work Series"

08/27/19

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"Forbes" featured Pace University President Marvin Krislov's latest piece "How We Build Resilience At College And At Home"

08/27/19

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"Broadway World" highlighted Pace University's Performing Arts Program in "Meet The Cast Currently Defying Gravity In WICKED On Broadway!"

08/27/19

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"Global Times China" featured featured Elisabeth Haub School of Law Professor Bennett Gershman in "Weinstein To Hear New Accusations Against Him"

08/27/19

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"International Business Times" featured Elisabeth Haub School of Law Professor Bennett Gershman in "Weinstein To Hear New Accusations Against Him"

08/27/19

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"Stamford Advocate" featured Pace's Latest Appointment in "Stamford Woman Named Pace University’s Diversity Officer"

08/27/19

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"Playbill" highlighted Pace University's Performing Arts Program As An Honorable Mention In "Big 10: The Most Represented Colleges On Broadway"

08/27/19

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"The Cut" featured Pace alumna Andrea Stewart-Cousins in "How I Get It Done: Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Most Powerful Woman in the New York State Senate"

08/27/19

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"Yonkers Times" featured Pace's Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems in "Pace's Cybersecurity Camp Inspires Next Generation

08/26/19

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"Yahoo News" featured Elisabeth Haub School of Law Professor Bennett L. Gershman in "Weinstein to Hear New Accusations Against Him"

08/26/19

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"Daily Beast" featured Elisabeth Haub School of Law Professor Bridget J. Crawford in "New Epstein Victims"

08/26/19

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"France 24" featured Elisabeth Haub School of Law Professor Bennett Gershman in "Fresh Sexual Assault Allegations Could Delay Harvey Weinstein's Trial"

08/26/19

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"New York Post" featured Lubin School of Business Professor Joseph Salerno in "Rent Control Critics Warn About Eventual Destruction of New York City"

08/26/19

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"Patch" featured Pace Athletics in "Pace Offers Free Youth Football Clinic Aug. 24"

08/26/19

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"River Journal" featured Pace Athletics in "Pace University Hosts Free Youth Football Clinic"

08/26/19

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"News 12" featured Pace University Athletics in "Pace Offers Free Youth Football Clinic"

08/26/19

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"CBS News" featured Pace University's Elisabeth Haub School of Law Professor Bridget J. Crawford in "What We Know About Jeffrey Epstein's Will, And What Happens Next With His Estate"

08/22/19

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"Playbill" featured Pace University Performing Arts Students in "Laura Benanti, John Cariani, Gavin Creel, and Megan Hilty Join 2019 Broadway Back to School Lineup"

08/21/19

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"Channel 3000" featured Pace University Lubin School of Business Professor and Associate Dean, Randi Priluck, in "Instagram Got Us Hooked on Likes. What happens When They're Gone?"

08/21/19

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"River Journal" featured Pace University's latest appointment in "Pace University Names First Chief Diversity Officer"

08/21/19

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"Patch" featured Pace University's latest appointment in "Pace University Hires Its First Diversity Officer"

08/21/19

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"BBC News Reel" featured College of Health Professions Professor Christen Cupples Cooper, EdD, RDN in "Can we 3D print our food?"

08/20/19

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Press Release: Pace University President Marvin Krislov Names First Chief Diversity Officer

08/20/19

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"New York Real Estate Journal" featured Pace University in "GNYCUC holds 2019 Chairman’s Reception at The Underground"

08/20/19

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"The Daily Beast" featured Elisabeth Haub School of Law Professor Bridget J. Crawford in "Jeffrey Epstein's Will Leaves $577 Million to Mysterious Trust"

08/20/19

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"1010 Wins" featured Pace University's Small Business Development Center on "The Bottom Line with Small Business"

08/19/19

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"Epoch Times" featured Pace University in "4 Ways Texting Could Be Ruining Your Relationship"

08/19/19

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"Wall Street Journal" featured President Marvin Krislov's commentary in "College Programs Pay Off Handsomely"

08/18/19

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"Today’s Dietitian" featured Dr. Christen Cupples Cooper's piece: "Nutrition & Academic Performance"

08/16/19

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"Mother Jones" featured Pace University's Elisabeth Haub School of Law's Distinguished Criminal Justice Fellow Mimi Rocah in "National Enquirer Investigated by FBI Over Possible Saudi Influence Peddling"

08/16/19

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"The New York Times" featured the Schimmel Center at Pace University in "5 Dance Performances to See in N.Y.C. This Weekend"

08/16/19

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"Business Insider" featured Dyson College of Arts and Sciences Professor Leora Trub in "Millennials and Gen Z love their technology — but American seniors are actually spending the most time on their screens"

08/16/19

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"The New Yorker" featured Pace University’s Camp CryptoBot in "A Summer Camp for the Next Generation of N.S.A. Agents"

08/16/19

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"WorkplaceTV" featured President Marvin Krislov in "Marvin Krislov, Pace University's President, discusses his career path"

08/16/19

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"Yahoo News" featured Pace University's Elisabeth Haub School of Law's Distinguished Criminal Justice Fellow Mimi Rocah in "The Jeffrey Epstein Investigation Continues After His Death. Here's Who Else Could Be Investigated"

08/15/19

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"Westchester Magazine" featured Pace University's Lubin School of Business in "Meet Our First Annual Best of Business Award Winners"

08/15/19

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"Mintpress News" featured Pace University's Elisabeth Haub School of Law's Distinguished Criminal Justice Fellow Mimi Rocah in "Conspiracy Theories: Jeffrey Epstein’s Uniquely American Death in Jail"

08/14/19

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"Courthouse News Service" featured Pace University's Elisabeth Haub School of Law's Distinguished Criminal Justice Fellow Mimi Rocah in "When Feds Demur, Judge Charges Ecuador Crusader Himself'

08/14/19

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"Shadowproof" featured Pace University's Elisabeth Haub School of Law's Distinguished Criminal Justice Fellow Mimi Rocah in "Jeffrey Epstein's Uniquely American Death in Jail"

08/14/19

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"Newsweek" featured Pace University's Elisabeth Haub School of Law's Distinguished Criminal Justice Fellow Mimi Rocah in "William Barr Accused of Making It Seem Like He Doesn't Oversee Bureau of Prisons after Epstein's Death"

08/14/19

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"The Georgetown Dish" featured Pace University Musical Theatre student Jana Jackson in Brilliant 'Mamma Mia!' at Clear Space Theatre Rehoboth Beach"

08/14/19

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"Biography" featured Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in "12 Notable Members of the Kennedy Family"

08/14/19

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"The Examiner" featured Seidenberg's Camp CryptoBot in "Pace's Cybersecurity Camp Inspires Next Generation"

08/14/19

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"Yonkers Rising" featured Pace University's Camp CryptoBot in "Pace's Cybersecurity Camp Inspires Next Generation"

08/14/19

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"LA Progressive" featured Pace University's Elisabeth Haub School of Law's Distinguished Criminal Justice Fellow Mimi Rocah in "What Happened When Bernie Sanders Went on the Joe Rogan Experience: Exactly What the Establishment Fears"

08/12/19

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"Raw Story" featured Pace University's Elisabeth Haub School of Law's Distinguished Criminal Justice Fellow Mimi Rocah in "Ex-prosecutor explains what will happen with the ongoing cases against Epstein after his jailhouse suicide"

08/12/19

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"Law & Crime" featured Pace University's Elisabeth Haub School of Law's Distinguished Criminal Justice Fellow Mimi Rocah in "Legal Experts ‘Dumbfounded’ by Decision to Remove Epstein From Suicide Watch"

08/12/19